Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Do It For Truth.

As always on the hunt for a quick buck, this weekend marks my first foray into being a scientific test subject aka paid guinea pig. Lured by its name dropping of the Magic Eye pictures, which I have loved since elementary school, I responded to this ad on Craigslist.

The participation contract I signed called the experiment a "Pavlovian visual perception experiment," so I was deeply relieved that no electrodes were taped to my head nor were there any bells in the room. Basically over the course of three hours spread over two days, I sat with paper red/green glasses and hit buttons on a small keypad. I had to respond to the computer-rendered 3-d spheres and cubes and not what direction they were spinning by tracking a moving dot across the screen. The kicker was that I was siting only 1 ft. away from a giant film screen in a pitch-black lab with no clock. There were 4 blocks of 120 images to be evaluated, and the testee was in control of the pacing. My first effort took 2 hours- twice as long as the average participant. I was taking a long time between eyes were dry, achey and throbbing. I was actually so bored I was singing to myself to pass the time. (However, when asked if I ever lost focus I said "Not really.") When the woman running the test came in to check on me and told me I had been in there for 2 hours I was stunned. I was completely unaware of time passing. I was surprised to be invited back the next day seeing as I was such an eye sloth. Day 2 was basically day one repeated, but my eyes held up better and I finished the sequence in about an hour.

The PhD running the test eventually told me that it was not about my eyesight at all, but rather about the snap judgements the brain makes about optical illusions. Glad to do my part. May it get her published. Total earned : $60 including the re-imbursed commutes. Not to shabby- I don't normally bill out at $20/hour.

PS- the Magic Eye website is so poorly designed but there is some fun content.

For those of you who are having trouble with the image above- try to unfocus your eyes. And know that the above image is host to a 3-D slice of pizza. See it yet?


  1. I see it! I see it! How did you survive two hours of this? My eyes want to die after a picture or two.

  2. Ah the images I was evaluating weren't Magic Eye images. The reason I had to be good at Magic Eye was so that all test subjects had similar vision profiles. The moving images I was evaluating were like neon green basic 3-D computerized shapes. No weird blurs or anything. The optical illusion is related to what direction they are spinning.

    Like, if you draw a cube the basic high school geometry way, you can see that there are 2 way of looking at it...the exam tested which choice my brain was making. Ooooooff.